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Group Says Longtime Resident Protections Still Needed After Abatement Study

Near West Side residents are calling for protections to ensure growth brought about by Cleveland’s growing tax abatement program doesn’t have a negative impact in neighborhoods such as Ohio City and Tremont.

A recent study by the city recommended limits on its tax abatement program, including limiting abatements to properties valued at $300,000 or less.

“We think that that captures most of the housing in the City of Cleveland and potentially ensures that we are still competitive as a neighborhood, where there may be some fixed costs that are higher,” said Tremont West Development Corporation Executive Director Cory Riordan.

Longtime residents and property owners need protection, Riordan said. A longtime owner occupant program, or LOOP, would limit the amount eligible property owners’ taxes could increase from year to year. But the city would need authorization from the state to make that happen, Riordan said.

“There are conversations happening,” Riordan said.

Without those sorts of protections, Riordan said, interest in the neighborhood from developers could end up pricing out longtime residents.

“It might not be an apple-to-apple comparison, ‘Oh, you’re getting a tax abatement here, so values are rising over here,’” Riordan said. “But we think there’s a secondary relationship that potentially increases the value and desire to be in the neighborhood.”

Increasing property values could lead to higher property taxes for everyone, he said, creating a burden for current residents with lower or fixed incomes.

The Tremont West Development Corporation was involved in the city’s study early on, Riordan said, and appreciates efforts on the city’s part to include residents in the discussion.

“The abatements have been a positive, and I think they just need to be adjusted to the new reality that we have an attractive community that’s going to attract investment even without abatement,” Riordan said.

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